I went through an impromptu spring cleaning a few weekends ago, and fell into that same quandary I always do with my books.
What do you do with your books after you read them? And I’m not talking about the cream of the crop favorite books that you absolutely have to own or else. I’m talking about books like ‘Smilla’s Sense of Snow”, by Peter Hoeg.
I read that book a few years ago, and I enjoyed it; it was a good read and memorable, even though it fell into the category of ‘books that are murder mysteries that I never really get a handle on what is happening in them even though I enjoy them’. So, there was that. Would I read it again? Probably not. Would I lend it to someone and say, ‘You have to read this’ ? Again, probably not. But still! It was a good book! Maybe someday I’ll see the movie and it will make me want to read the book again! Who knows?
In this fashion, ‘Smilla’s Sense of Snow’ has followed me to three different apartments in two different states. Every time I try to clear through my bookshelves and get rid of some books, I pick it up, the above monologue goes through my head, and I end up keeping it. This is the case for many other books I own. The problem might be that I can’t decide what kind of book owner I want to be. There are two warring sides to me on this issue: On the one hand, I yearn to be Spartan and keep only what I need. I want uncluttered spaces and minimalism. On the other hand, it’s kind of nice to have a big ol’ bookshelf full of books in your house. Books are important to me, and I like the idea of having a respectable collection of them. Maybe I won’t need to re-read ‘Into Thin Air’ by Jon Krakauer a third time, but it’s nice to know that it’s there if I want to.
I have books my parents gave me, books that were gifts from dear friends, books I bought for college courses that I loved and courses that I hated. Even if I never read them again, they remind me of people and places and times in my life. It’s hard to get rid of them.
Also, I’ve realized that weighing the possibility that I will read a certain book again, leads me down a morbid path. How much time do I really have left in my life? Enough to read ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ yet again? It’s one of my favorite books, but there are so many OTHER great books I have yet to read! Do I dare take the time to read that one over again? But if I don’t, how sad is it to think that I’ll never read it again? See, there’s no reason to think like that. It doesn’t lead anywhere good.
So at this point, even though it makes moving even less fun (although moving is terrible no matter what) I think I’ll stick to keeping my books, if that’s what my inner monologue encourages. There’s something very comforting about searching through a big friendly shelf of familiar books.
There’s a story by Jack London that ends with a man who commits suicide by swimming out and drowning himself in the ocean. I can’t remember what it’s called and google isn’t helping me right now. Wait– it’s called ‘Martin Eden’. Having had asthma since I was a child, I have always been terrified of dying by suffocation. The haunting description of the character’s drowning has always stayed with me, even though I clearly don’t remember much else about the book. I have always remembered the last line, which was, “And at the instant he knew, he ceased to know.”
Man, I used to love Jack London. I remember reading Call of the Wild and White Fang, which were more or less age-appropriate at the time (I was ten or eleven). But then I went on to read The Sea Wolf, which involved murder, attempted rape, horrible wasting diseases and keel-hauling (from what I can recall), and John Barleycorn, which I now know is the story of Jack London’s alcoholism from a very young age; at the time I had absolutely NO idea what it was about. Really. I didn’t even know it involved alcohol. I was a naive kid. In fact I even remember writing a book report on John Barleycorn. It was probably not a very good book report, because I probably thought the book was the story of John Barleycorn’s life, as told to Jack London by John Barleycorn. This is untrue.
I also loved the story “To Build A Fire”, about a man who freezes to death in the fridgid wilderness (of Alaska?) after his matches go out and he can’t make a fire to warm himself. As a desperate last resort, he tries to kill the dog he is traveling with, so he can stick his hands in its insides to warm himself. I remember thinking that was pretty cool. As naive as I was, I was still a ten year old.
From: ‘Molly Schoemann’
Sent: Friday, December 28, 2007 2:04 PM
Subject: Redwall Books
Below are the titles from the NINETEEN Redwall books, by Brian Jacques. I think I read about 3 of them back in the day. For each title, if it’s possible to also know how many copies were produced, and what we billed for the job, that would be great.
Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to make the search easier? Thank you!
Mariel of Redwall
Martin the Warrior
Outcast of Redwall: A Tale from Redwall
Pearls of Lutra: A Tale from Redwall
The Long Patrol: A Tale from Redwall
Marlfox: A Tale from Redwall
The Legend of Luke
Lord Brocktree: A Tale from Redwall
Loamhedge: A Tale from Redwall
Rakkety Tam: A Tale from Redwall
Brian Jacques Needs a New Condo in Bermuda: A Tale from Redwall
(Ok, I made that last one up.)